One hundred under-resourced schools in the Western Cape have now received purpose-designed and constructed science learning centres in a programme started 12 years ago as a project by leading science educationist Professor Shaheed Hartley, the Director of Advancing Knowledge NPC.
The object of the programme is to provide facilities to assist with practical experience in school subjects such as Physics and Chemistry.
The partners in the project are the founder, Professor Hartley and his non-profit initiative, Advancing Knowledge; the Garden Cities Archway Foundation, and the Western Cape Education Department. The partnership has received accolades for its far-reaching support programmes that improve the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in disadvantaged schools. Against major odds, it has successfully improved the infrastructure for these gateway subjects to be taught successfully.
The schools that have received the science learning centres cover the length and breadth of the Western Cape and include under-resourced schools in suburbs surrounding Cape Town, as well as those further afield such as Kuils River, Robertson, Saldanha, Worcester, Bonnievale, Blue Downs, Atlantis and Ceres.
The construction of the Science Learning Centres is an extension of the curriculum support provided by AK NPC and serves as a reward to committed science teachers, school managements and learners who are negatively affected by lack of practical teaching facilities.
Prof Hartley is on record as saying: “we have to start with the basics in terms of supporting teachers to have the confidence to teach science with an advanced level of understanding, knowledge and skills. Similarly, we have to be creative in providing learners with opportunities that will claim their interest and willingness to learn. Developing a strong culture of science teaching and learning will be a good start to prepare learners to take their place in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR)”.
“Having a confident and knowledgeable science teacher in a conducive environment provided by the Science Teaching and Learning Centres, are steps in the right direction.”
John Matthews, Group CEO of Garden Cities (NPC) (RF) says that the company’s CSI component, the Archway Foundation, was created to improve the opportunities for children in the Western Cape who, through historic circumstances, have not received equal resources to further their education. “The Science TLC project is one of the vehicles through which Garden Cities, as a non-profit corporation, invests in meeting South Africa’s future human resource needs in Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), particularly within a 4IR environment.“
Retired school Principal, Myrtle February, Chairperson of the Archway Foundation, says the foundation first became involved when Prof Hartley mooted the idea of developing the Learning Centres (SLCs) at schools in disadvantaged areas. “As a result of the lack of adequate facilities, Physical Science and all related subjects were not offered at many schools, so learners opted for those subjects which could be taught within the confines of conventional classrooms.
“This led to a general disinterest in science subjects and created a shortage of learners pursuing careers in that field.
“At that stage the Archway Foundation was already chipping away at the huge scarcity of school halls, of which there are now 118. John Matthews and the GC board of directors considered this to be a worthwhile project to support financially and so provide young learners with the facilities to compete on an equal footing with the top schools in the country.
“At Garden Cities we work from the premise that, given the opportunities, all learners have the ability to be successful. Social circumstances and lack of facilities should not determine their future success.”
The Archway Foundation also awards bursaries to students at several tertiary institutions.
Organisations and corporates that want to contribute to this important initiative to empower and capacitate science practitioners to build a critical mass of future STEM participants, are encouraged to contact AK NPC Director, Prof Hartley via firstname.lastname@example.org, or (083) 793 0436.